Poonch Attack: Over 40 Detained For Questioning

POONCH — More than 40 persons have been detained for questioning as part of a massive operation currently underway to track down the militants involved in the Poonch militant attack, officials said on Monday.

Additional troops have been inducted to further intensify the cordon-and-search operation (CASO) in Bhata Dhurian-Tota Gali and neighbouring areas. As the operation entered fourth day on Monday with engagement of multiple security agencies, the entire belt is put under cordon, they said.

Five Army personnel were killed and a sixth was seriously injured when their vehicle caught fire during a militant attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch on Thursday.

According to the investigation, the militants likely hid in a culvert on a stretch of the Bhimber Gali-Poonch road before they attacked the truck that was carrying army jawans, officials said.

A sniper is believed to have targeted the army truck from front before his associates showered bullets and lobbed grenades at it from opposite sides, apparently giving the troops no time to retaliate, they added.

“Militants used steel core bullets that can penetrate an armoured shield,” officials said, adding, “before fleeing, the militants also stole soldiers’ arms and ammunition.”

The armoured vehicle was found riddled with more than 50 bullet marks, they said.

During the search operation, troops came across a few natural cave hideouts in the area, which could possibly have been used by the militants in the past, they said, adding the troops are also looking for any improvised explosive devices (IEDs) militants may have planted in the densely forested areas, especially in deep gorges and caves.

The army truck attacked in Poonch was carrying fruits, vegetables and other items from the Bhimber Gali camp to Sangiote village for Iftar celebration scheduled to be held at 7 pm Thursday, the officials said. The slain soldiers were from a Rashtriya Rifles unit deployed for counter-militant operations.

The Bhimber Gali-Poonch road, which was closed for vehicular traffic following the militant attack, was reopened for traffic on Sunday.

Army’s Northern Commander Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi Sunday said necessary action to nab the militants responsible for the deadly attack is under way.

Experts from various agencies, including the National Security Guard (NSG) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), have visited the site of the attack in the past two days to probe the incident, the officials said.

Hundreds of people in Kishtwar Sunday took out a candle light march in solidarity with the family of the jawans killed in the attack. — (PTI)

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